Friday, March 25, 2011

Five Umbrella Friday: Fatal Affair by Marie Force

My Friday pick of the week should appeal to romance fans as well as mystery, suspense, and political intrigue fans. Marie Force is trying to do something unique with this series and succeeds admirably! I'll be reviewing the sequel, Fatal Justice, next week.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a Friday Pick of the Week at Cloudy With a Chance of Books--

If authors ever doubt the power of giveaways and ARCs, let me assure you that a huge percentage of my book buying comes after reading something free. Or as in this case, getting book 2 from netgalley led to my purchasing this book as I have series OCD and have a terrible time starting at book 2. This was absolutely the right call here as Marie Force is trying something very new here--Romantic Suspense with the same hero and heroine and a revolving cast of secondary characters. Her series doesn't fit most comparisons as it's not a husband/wife cozy mystery series (AT. All.), it's not the let's-drag-the-faux-relationship-out-for-16-books standard suspense offering (At. All.), and it's not the standard RS series with a new couple each book with minor revisiting of past characters. The closest comparisons I have are to my two goddesses--Suzanne Brockmann and Julia Spencer-Fleming. Like Brockmann and Spencer-Fleming, Force has multi-book relationship arcs for different characters and multiple POV characters per book with certain storylines remaining unresolved even as that book's mystery is solved. Most importantly, like both of these authors, Force delivers the literary equivalent of dove chocolate--each is a splendid little treat, but you can't possibly eat just one, and you spend way too much time obsessing about when you can get more.

However, unlike Brockmann, there's not a new HEA each book, and unlike Spencer-Fleming, there's not a continuing will-they-or-won't-they factor. In fact, the best comparison for this series isn't literary at all--this the book equivalent of well-done TV drama as we watch relationships evolve and change over time. Think Castle or Bones with lots of nookie and a higher likelihood of people getting HEA endings sometime soon. Like Castle and Bones, Fatal Affair features a strong female protagonist, Police Detective Sam Holland, who drives the series and who only needs rescuing from herself. Sam is quick-thinking, assertive, and one of Washington DC's best detectives. However, she's recently landed in hot water due to a bad judgment call that resulted in the death of a child, and she's trying to move beyond this, both professionally and personally.

Being assigned to the case of a murdered Senator looks like it will help on both fronts, but she encounters Nick Cappauno, the Senator's chief of staff AND her one-night stand from six years ago, at the murder scene. The sensual tension between the two immediately sizzles, but past history as well as the pesky might-be-a-murderer thing stand in their way. One thing that I really enjoyed about this book was that unlike most reunion stories it wasn't hero or heroine's stupidity that kept them apart. Instead, something external intervened, and this weaves an additional element of suspense through the book.

The other thing that I really liked was how darn hard Sam works at being ethical. So many RS law enforcement heroes and heroines end up in bed with potential suspects and persons of interest without much thought to the consequences. Here, however, acting ethically is big theme of the series, and all of the characters struggle with making the right choices. Of course, eventually Sam DOES end up in bed with Nick and has to deal with the fallout from that, including her own self-recriminations. The love scenes are sizzling and fairly plentiful without being graphic or gratuitous which should appeal both to readers who little a little left to the imagination and to those who like a lot of sexy.

The murder investigation twists and turns throughout the book and gets equal billing with the relationship. There were plenty of reveals that I didn't see coming at all, but in hindsight were beautifully, cleverly foreshadowed. The secondary characters are unique and interesting--Sam's disabled father and her straight-laced rookie partner both have character arcs that continue into the next book. If you pick this book up, do yourself a favor and DON'T look at the blurb for book 2 yet--you will enjoy the reveals in this book more! I loved what Marie Force is trying to do here, and I immediately started Book 2 and added her entire backlist to my TBR pile as her cross-genre appeal and light-yet-sexy suspense is downright addictive. A must-read, especially for those tired of formula series and books.


  1. LOVE this review. Thank you so much!

  2. Love, love, love this series. I discovered Marie's books awhile back when I stumbled upon Love at First Flight. One reason I read UF over PNR is that it usually features one or two main characters (as well as all the supporting characters), that continue over the course of numerous books. In romance, however, this is virtually impossible to find. The only other one I can think of is the In Death series. I'm so happy that Carina was willing to pick this series up. I just hope it goes on for awhile. I love Sam and Nick.